Old Cemeteries are often hidden in the forests – You can help find them

CEMETERY DOCUMENTATION

by

SHERRY S. JOHNSTON

Years ago, when I first started this journey of researching, documenting and writing about cemeteries, I started off with some that were the ‘hard to find’ ones.cemetery in woods


These are the cemeteries that have been so well-hidden in the forests of our communities, they’d disappeared from our view; or they were cemeteries that had been inadvertently destroyed by either agricultural or timber practices.

I remember wanting to locate a certain cemetery that had bearing on some of my own family tree, and enlisted the help of some of my ‘cemetery junking’ friends and family members.

Searched many miles for cemeteries

I can’t tell you how often we’ve traveled a certain dirt road in this county in search of this cemetery; or how many miles certain individuals have actually walked in their search; or the many times we’ve looked in historical land records to see if we can find a clue to the actual spot that a certain lady surveyed in 1981.

We’ve asked ourselves many times over, how could the landscape have changed so drastically in such a short time period? Yes, the kudzu grows fast around here, as does the underbrush; the trees grow taller and hide certain features from view; the trees get harvested and no one knows about the cemetery lying hidden underneath and it gets destroyed very quickly.

Every so often, I bring this cemetery back to the forefront of the minds of our readers, hoping against hope that someone will read it and recognize, and remember something to help us in our search.

Families of Old Town and Mt. Union tied together

The families of Old Town and Mt. Union communities were tied together all the way back to their point of origin. Families of Barlow, Congleton, Tolbert, Perdue, Johns, Hyde, Rountree, Adams, Sheffield, Wilson, Jones and others are tied into the cemeteries known as Old Town Cemetery, Mt. Union Cemetery, Rountree Cemetery, Pleasant Grove (aka Shady Grove) Cemetery and the Barlow Cemetery.

Mt. Union Cemetery, Conecuh County, Alabama

conecuh county, Mt. union cemetery conecuh coung

Of the above named cemeteries, only two have not been located: Rountree and Barlow—and they may be one and the same; known by different names by different generations or separate burial grounds.

We have a sketchy legal description of the Old Barlow Cemetery—in Township 5 North, Range 12 East—possibly section 13, 24 or 25 somewhere along Lizard Lope or J.P. Howard Road.

In the Death Records on microfilm, I’ve discovered that there could be possibly as many as 10 or more graves—many of these that can’t be found elsewhere could have been laid to rest here.

The only known grave in 1981 was identified as John Barlow, with no dates of birth or death. We know who he was, who his family was— but we’d like to know more—we’d like to know what happened to his burial ground. If we could just get an idea of the exact location, it would help other researchers in their ancestral quest as to family farms, connecting lines, etc

If the cemetery has been destroyed, we need to know that too—there might not be anything we can do about that, but at least, we’d finally know. If you have information, please call us at 251.578.2670 or email me at [email protected]

 

Note by Donna R. Causey: Please do not email the Alabama Pioneers website concerning old cemeteries. AP cannot be of help, but there is a statewide alliance dedicated to finding and preserving old cemeteries within the State of Alabama. They have a website with contact information: Alabama Cemetery Preservation Alliance. 

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About Sherry S. Johnston

Genealogist/Historian Evergreen-Conecuh Co. Public Library - Canebrake Genealogical & Historical Society, Founder 2001 - http://www.canebrakeghs.com - Email: [email protected]

About Sherry S. Johnston

Genealogist/Historian Evergreen-Conecuh Co. Public Library - Canebrake Genealogical & Historical Society, Founder 2001 - http://www.canebrakeghs.com - Email: [email protected]

119 Responses to Old Cemeteries are often hidden in the forests – You can help find them

  1. A. Mann says:

    I know the location of a Slave cemetery in Tallapoosa county close to Horseshoe Bend Park… Graves are marked with fields stones.
    The graves are located on the grounds of a former log church built for Slaves who lived in the area.
    I dont think anyone knows about it….would be sad for it to be lost in time.

  2. There is a small cemetery, in the woods, in the Claud community ( Electric ) . Between a tiny church and the Smith property !!

  3. It’s on Luke Paschal Rd.

  4. I have an older map of Jackson County Al. It shows where all the cemeteries are located. Some are on Wildlife Management land and very hard to get to.

  5. Phyllis Miller says:

    Cemetery near me just fieldstones near martin dam in red hill called Taylor cemetery on my uncles deed and a black cemetery only one marked was Henery Head

  6. How soon they are forgotten sad so many groups could help clean them up

  7. I know Sumter county has several, been a very long time but there was a couple in Gainesville AL.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Your post brings back a funny memory. In 1960 I had been home in Sheffield, Alabama, visiting my family – and was driving back home to Norfolk, Virginia. To make the trip more fun we had our cooler of food and a Coleman camping stove. We would stop in rest areas, etc., to cook our food.

    One evening we had driven a long way without finding a place to stop. Then, we saw one picnic table in a small area beside the highway. So, we stopped, set up our Coleman stove and began cooking. Then, I looked around and discovered a small cemetery just behind us.

    Because it had taken so long to find the picnic table, by the time we had cooked our dinner it was getting to be dusk – so we set up candles on each end of the picnic table and had a candle light dinner.

    Later we laughed at the thought of what people driving by would have thought seeing us eating dinner by candle light in a cemetery. Oh, well, that is what makes life fun – giving folks something to ponder. God bless, Bill

  9. There is a cemetery on the grounds of Camp Ascca near jacksons gap Alabama on lake Martin.

  10. There is a tiny cemetery in Double Springs off Lynn Highway called Blooming Youth. If you don’t know it’s there, you would never find it!

  11. Cemeteries are easily forgotten. I remember going with my grandparents years ago to tend to a cemetery that was nestled back in the woods. I need to ask where it was…

  12. There’s one on double s mountain in Morgan co.

  13. The old Bibb Graves cemetery is located in Hope Hull, Alabama amongst the weeds and overgrowth in a pasture.

  14. Here you go Gale Hobbs

  15. There is an old cemetery off rouse rd{Stouts road }west of Warrior ,it is on private property.I was told it was beside a abandoned road that use to go between Warrior and Dora

  16. There is an abandoned cemetery at the end of south Sixth St in Gadsden. Traditionally a black cemetery.
    Also an overgrown cemetery in Attalla at about 17th st with stones dating back to the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.

  17. Aaron GuyAaron Guy says:

    Brittiany Guy Odom

  18. There is an old cemetery on Shannon Road about a half mile off Hwy. 150 in Bessemer . A few graves are still there but most were relocated a few years ago.

  19. There is one on the grounds of the nuclear plant where I work. We have a group that tends to it. Keeping it mowed and such.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Years ago, when I was a child, I was taken to a family (Rosser) Cemetary outside Moundville, Al. I would never be able to find it again, but it’s a shame that it’s hidden in the woods.

    • It was the cemetery for the original Old Centre Church. It was in Tuscaloosa county somewhere off of Rosser Rd between Big Sandy and Taylorville. The land belongs to Westerville Lumber and is all grown up now. We went to it at the last Riss e r Reunion at Moundville Bout 1995

    • Pat Ivy says:

      It seems such a shame for it to be “lost”, so to speak. Rufus Menander’s (sp?) was one of graves. We’ve heard thst name all our lives.

      That’s been 20 years, so there’s no telling what condition they’re in now.

    • Pat,
      There are TWO cemeteries at Pleasant Hill. The older one is in the woods behind the church according to my deceased father-in-law. He has ancestry buried there. We never found the time to visit the cemetery when he was alive. Good luck finding the one you are seeking.

    • Pat Ivy says:

      Thanks, Lee. Was he connected to Rossers, because that probably is the one I went to.

    • Arthur Johnston, husband of Ruby Davis was my exceptional Father-in-law. I know of no Rossers in his family tree.

    • Brenda Glenn dee says:

      I visited an old cemetery with my Mom years ago. In the woods near Moundville. Would love more info to be able to find it. My.great grandmother is buried there. My Mom is deceased

  21. We have been searching for years on where Jessy Meredith was buried in Alabama he died 1834.

  22. Bubba ross says:

    I was hunting with friend on family property they showed me what they called slave graves out in top corner of coosa county n bottom of clay near good water was bout 100 or more sites but all were unreadable

  23. When I was at Auburn in 1975, my brother and I were walking through a forest I think a hunting management area northof Auburn, I ran across a family buried in the late 1790’s. They didn’t have headstones, but a 8 or 10 inch concrete oval circle with a slab on top with their names carved in the top. Always wondered if they were killed or some disease got them.

  24. Susan says:

    There is one in Lamar County but I can’t get to it. I do have directions however.

  25. Looking for the grave of Isham Kendrick died from hepatitis in 1864 contracted while serving in Confederate Army . Could be in N Shelby co or Southern Jefferson co

  26. Almost every cemetery I needed to get to in Georgia was in the woods.

  27. I found and recorded several old ones in St. Clair county. I know of several in Cleburne county that are unrecorded and hard to get to.

  28. We have a lot of these in Dekalb County.

  29. Looking for the Huntsville graveyard where one of my Grand Father’s is buried in a mass grave. He was imprisioned during the Confederate war (our family fought for the Union) and he died of Colera in Huntsville, Alabama. He was imprisioned there for over 4 years and then died of colera. Got any idea where his body resides? I want to put up a stone in his memory. Thank you, Jean Moore Sanderson. His name would be Patrick Moore.

  30. Mary Forbus says:

    There’s a cemetery in Alex City Al in the old Russell Estates. It is called Old Youngsville Cemetery and no one has ever really acknowledged it. I have talked to multiple people to get it cleaned up to no avail Rueben Griffin Young was the founder of Youngsville . He has 6 children buried there. I am a descendant of his. There are probably 200+ graves there. No one can get anything done to clean it up

    • SARA WOMACK says:

      Reuben Griffin Young is my 3rd great grandfather. Where is this cemetery located?

    • Vera Nell Osborne Moreland says:

      I grew up in Alex City and am interested in the location of this cemetery. You said Russell estates, but that only confused me because they owned so much of Alex City. Could you please give me more specifics as to the exact location or thereabouts. Thank you

  31. My ancestor is buried at Mt Pisgah primitive baptist church later called Shady Grove in 1840 in Blount County. I have yet to find the cemetery or church. Any help?

  32. My family has found 2 family cemeteries lost and forgotten over the years. These family members died in the early 1800 – 1917. The oldest is my G-G-G Grandparents…Seaborn Duke , two of his sons and their extended families. Cleaned up and replaced civil war veterans headstones. Gives us a connection to our family’s past.

  33. Danny north says:

    We have several here in Walker co. that some of us that live here know a about. I’ve seen some headstones that were hand carved, some from the very late 1700’s,and some you just can’t read. There’s three cemeteries I know of . They are definitely not cared for.

  34. Much of the Noble Hill Cemetery outside of Attalla on Sand Valley Rd is ignored. Many years ago I noticed some graves just marked with a large rock. No names , dates or anything to identify the interred. I was told those were the slave graves.

  35. Sherry S Johnston. My brother did his doctoral dissertation at U of Al regarding name place associations. He researched every cemetery in 3 counties of northeast Al.

  36. We have one in my neighborhood Vinegar Bend, Alabama on Prine off County Rd 8,I wish we could get some help getting it cleaned up it has lots of 1800’s graves and beautiful headstones .Needs some Love to it.

  37. I have a cemetary on our property in Crenshaw Co, But if i published it it would cause me to have to unlock the gate and allow public access to our land. That’s not going to happen because of liability issues of drowning in the pond, running yourself head first into a tree with an ATV….

    • David Coggins says:

      Ms. Mccall, I am researching all the cemeteries in Crenshaw county. Trying to locate graves of all who served in the Confederate Army or Navy. If you would allow me to visit your cemetery, I would be most appreciative.

      • Adam Eason says:

        David, have you by chance discovered the Benbow-Sartor Graveyard west of Mt. Ida Road and just south of Beaver Branch on the Dorothy Benbow Burnside property? We believe we have a relative that fought in the revolutionary war buried there along with his wife, son, and grandson. They were buried between 1848 and 1862. We know the site has been discovered and photos of cleaned headstones uploaded by the Crenshaw County Historical Society. Any more specific location information would be greatly appreciated.

        Best regards,

        Adam Eason

  38. There’s one at Calloway Gardens, in Pine Mountain Georgia. It’s located to the right of the pathway heading away from the big circus tent. My brother found it when we were on vacation there in the 1970s. They hadn’t known it was there…

  39. in the 60s there was a small cemetery in the woods down on Mon Luis Island with a few wooden headstones that most of been well over a hundred years old. It is most certainly now lost to the underbrush.

  40. TJ says:

    My great great aunt told me a few months ago that my 3x Great Grandparents are buried in the woods in Randolph County, Al. They’re somewhere in the woods near Prospect Methodist Church right below Ranburne. Her name is Martha Clementine Mitchell and her husband was Charles David Smith. If anybody knows where I might find them I would really appreciate it!

  41. Dustin says:

    I know where there is a Civil War graveyard way back in the woods and the graves have sunk about 3 feet. If you want to know where it is located just email me.

  42. Paul Rogers says:

    I know of a cemetery in Northern part of Randolph co Al that my Great Grandfather Rogers is buried in,Along with a Confederate Soldier. The cemete
    is near Ophelia church and is hard to reach, grown over with briars trees and such.

  43. cynthia faulkner-weir says:

    I know of a small cemetery on family farm land in jemison al in Chilton co. Haven’t been there since the 1980’s

    • Christie Hamilton says:

      My family is from Chilton County. Wish I had listened as a child. There are several cemeteries hidden. There is one where my great great great grandparents are buried across the street from a church but the woods have hidden it. Would not be able to find it now. Sad

  44. If you wish to see a beautiful project, google in Harmony Grove Cemetery- Atlanta, Georgia. This is the final resting place of some of my relatives. They have before and after pictures of the restoration project. Also, my Grand-Mother Carrie Etheridge Beall Brown was the last person buried there in 1968. Many thanks to my cousin Jimmy Meers (May he rest in peace) for all of his efforts in this project prior to his passing away.

  45. Willie Walker says:

    When I was a teenager I took my girlfriend into an old graveyard in Covington County, Alabama. It was back in a dense forest of old trees. There were few grave markers and it was said it was a Negro graveyard. It is but a few miles from the little community of Gantt, Ala. It was a moonlit night but hard to see beneath the trees. Suddenly my foot sank in the ground up to my hip and when I got out I took my leave of the cemetery never to return.

  46. Linda G Harrell says:

    This weekend we came across a church called First Brooklyn Zion, MBC in Conecuh County, AL.
    The church is not being used and in very poor condition. The cemetery just broke my heart. The overgrowth is so bad you cannot get to some of the graves. This was a Black Church and it appears it was kept at one point. Has a chain length fence all around. Most of the graves are breaking or broken because of no vaults in the earlier years. We found one person who buried there in 2000. Some of the sure names are: Marshall, McCreary, Richardson & Brooks. It is located in the vicinity of Harts Bridge Road. Walking in this cemetery one needs to take extreme care. Some graves are sunk in and with the brush they are hard to see, also this time of year snakes could be anywhere.

  47. Don’t go searching alone nor unarmed.

  48. There is an old cemetery at the end of South Sixth St in Gadsden which has become a forest. Also one in Attalla which dates back to the 1700’s. Another on Duck SpringsRd in Etowah county with slave graves marked only with a rock. My brother did a name/place association as his doctoral work.

  49. Don’t know if it was mentioned before, but be careful in forest of old wells at old home places!

  50. that is one of the things I like the most about Alabama…there are many many old cemeteries located and hidden in the forests…found one hidden in trees on a interstate exit…

  51. I’m so hoping more cemeteries will be found and documented in Coffee County and Russell County!

    • Me too Marie. I have ancestors unfounded in Coffee or Covington County. One day perhaps (IF they are in marked graves)

    • What are your family surnames in Coffee County?

    • Golikely/Likely. I’ve found several things but no graves sites. Family lore says they are buried 4 mi from Elba. However they lived in Covington County last. 1870 is the last census I have with the head John C not in that census. (Presumed died prior)

    • That 1870 census is so incomplete to add to the problems. I’ve been through every page looking by hand. Mine is the Cardwell/Bishop and aligned families. One day I hope someone comes across their family cemetery!

  52. Seeing this cemetery in this condition makes me sad.

  53. I know of one in Tallapoosa County Al in a place the locals call “Booger Holler” there isn’t but maybe 6 stones deep in the woods. One is newer maybe ’80’s or so but the others are just placed stones with no inscriptions.

  54. Old Rehoboth near Laird cemetery between Gastonville and Gees Bend off dirt road in Wilcox County

  55. Anyone know of the Maples Cemetery in Hollytree?

  56. There is Town Cemetery on North Jackson in Russellville Franklin co Al. Boney K sever was lad to rest in October1836 she was the wife John Sevier Governor of Teen. On July 25 1922 she was removed to Knoxville Tenn. She died in her home that still stains at 203 Gaines Street there was a cholera in Russellville Al. in 1935 so this could have had to do with her death There were up ward of 80 people dead some still in homes The paper steaded With not no one to car for the sick

  57. We have several old small cemeteries on or near our property in Georgia…..just over the Alabama line outside of Roanoke. Many on Timber company property. Some dating back to 1775

  58. Union cemetery behind the union Methodist in chelsea

  59. adam holmes says:

    There is an old cemetery in the woods where double s mountain road and gum pond road meet in the Ryan/gum pond communities.

  60. Christine Graham Cracker Hale

  61. Old cemeteries are a part of history. I’m not morbid but those who know what I did for a living understand why I said that. I’ve come across some very old graves and wonder what that persons life was like. No cell phones no inside running water and PRIDE in their work no matter what they did. Surviving was the number one thing they thought of for their family’s. God forbid you went down to the town lawyer to get a divorce.

  62. Rosalie scharf says:

    In Jackson county alabama in boxes cove community there is an old cementary, I think is Selby cemetery. It’s in a grove of trees in a field off 145 and is overgrown. It’s on private property I think.

  63. Add those that were covered with water for lakes.

  64. sandra barbee says:

    I would love any info on Price Cemetery in Jackson county in mud creek area. My maternal grandmothers people are buried there but many of the grave markers were destroyed and/or moved, etc.

  65. Sherry Sorrells Finchum

  66. Those beautiful old stones!

  67. Wonder how many are under Lake Tuscaloosa?

  68. Joe KelleyJoe Kelley says:

    I know where two are in walker county

  69. Forests may not have been there in the very old plots, trees just grew over the years.

  70. John Grant says:

    What always gets me is when we are deer, turkey or hog hunting far from any homes or roads, and walk up on a line or several lines of flowers planted many years ago outlining a walkway or home. Those flowers have been blooming for who knows how many years without anyone seeing them. We just sit down and wonder who lived there and carefully planted them to enjoy seeing their blooms.

  71. Lilly says:

    I am Native American, and I really enjoyed reading about the people of Al. Some of my Ancestors lived in Al. or was removed from Va, Tn, Ky, Nc. to Al. And I would like to know more about them as well as learning about others. and seeing the pictures, of days gone by.
    Thank you,
    Lilly Anderson

    • Bob Thomas says:

      Lilly, I met numerous Creeks from Oklahoma during the Horseshoe Bend Battle Bicentennial and they had spent several days in Alabama visiting the sites of Creek villages and graveyards. There were several busloads of visitors excorted by the Indian Nation Police Car and followed by the Indian Nation Rescue Ambulance. This group was very well educated and very knowledgeable about their Alabama Heritage. Across from me at lunch sat a lady retired Marine Corps Major who told me some of the stories passed down to them by those who survived the Trail of Tears.”

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